Foot arch pain, or pain on the bottom of the foot can be caused by a number of problems.
The arches of the foot control how the forces associated with activities like walking are transferred up and down the leg. If there is a problem with the foot arches or surrounding soft tissues, pain can be felt anywhere from the foot, to the knee, to the lower back.
Arch foot pain is also common when standing or walking for long periods. This is often due to weakness and tightness of the muscles and tendons which support the foot arches.
Here we will be looking at the most common causes of foot arch pain and why they cause pain on the bottom of the foot.
Plantar Fascia Problems
The plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous band which runs along the sole of the feet. It helps to support the foot arches and transmits forces through the foot as you move.
The most common problem to develop here is plantar fasciitis. If there is too much strain on the plantar fascia, it becomes inflamed and swollen. This is usually caused by long periods on your feet, suddenly increasing activity levels or your foot position is altered. Plantar fasciitis is often accompanied by a bone spur, which is an excess growth of the bone which develops due to repeated tension on the area where the plantar fascia attaches to the bone.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot arch pain. It is usually painful after activity or prolonged rest. Find out more about plantar fasciitis by visiting this site: www.plantar-fasciitis.com
A less common problem with the plantar fascia which causes foot arch pain is plantar fibromatosis. This is when a small nodular growth develops on the plantar fascia, usually in the middle of the foot arch. It often causes pain when walking due to pressure through the lump.
Another common cause of foot arch pain is a stress fracture. They tend to occur from repeated overloading of one of the foot bones from activities such as jumping and running, especially if you have suddenly increased your activity level. The breaks in the bone may be small but they can be extremely painful.
Stress fractures of the metatarsal bones or the navicular can cause anything from mild to severe foot arch pain.
Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
The tibialis posterior muscle plays a very important role in supporting the medial arch of the foot.
Posterior tibial tendonitis can occur either through repetitive use, for example a high impact sport such as soccer or tennis, or from an injury due to falling. This causes the tendon to become inflamed or even torn, resulting in pain on the bottom of the foot. This pain usually gets worse with activity or when standing for long periods. If the problem persists, the inner side of the foot which is known as the medial longitudinal arch of the foot will gradually collapse down, causing flat feet.
A simple test for this condition is to stand on one leg and rise up onto your toes. If you can’t do this, it indicates a problem with the posterior tibial tendon and the RICE treatment guideline in most cases will alleviate the problem.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome develops when there is compression on the tibial nerve as it passes through the tarsal tunnel on the inner side of the ankle bone. It can cause pain on the bottom of the foot as well as pins and needles. Numbness in the heel can often extend down to the big toe and adjacent three toes. In addition, it may also produce hot and cold sensations along the bottom of the foot.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is causing by anything which occupies space in the tarsal tunnel including cysts, ganglions, bone spurs, swelling from ankle injuries or tumors.
Treatment aims to reduce the foot arch pain and usually consists of rest, strengthening and stretching exercises, compression bandages and steroid injections. If the pain in the bottom of the foot persists, surgery may be required. Surgery is only used as a last resort, and is most often never done.
Foot cramps are caused by muscles suddenly spasming uncontrollably. They most commonly cause foot and arch pain but can occur anywhere in the foot and lower leg. Usually, they only last a few seconds but in more extreme cases they can continue longer.
Often, there is no obvious reason why people suffer from foot cramps, but possible causes include diet, muscle tightness and weakness, dehydration, reduced circulation and fatigue. Sometimes, it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition so if the problem keeps recurring, do consult your doctor.
Some of the best ways to reduce the incidence of foot arch pain from cramps include doing strengthening exercises, using heat, drinking plenty of water, using toe stretchers and ensuring you are wearing good footwear.
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungal infection usually brought on by poor foot hygiene or if the foot is exposed to prolonged damp conditions.
It can occur in any part of the foot causing dry, flaky and itchy skin, and often results in pain on the bottom of the foot.
Athlete’s foot can usually be cured by going bare foot for a few days and ensuring good hygiene. Sometimes, anti-fungal medication will also be prescribed by your doctor.
Also known as pes planus, this is when the foot of the arch collapses completely dropping the whole sole of the foot down to the ground.
Babies are born with flat feet and as they grow, the foot arches should gradually form, but in approximately 20 percent of the population, they never do. They can also develop later in life due to illness, pregnancy, injury or excessive stress on the feet and can also be part of the aging process.
Many people who have flat feet don’t complain of any accompanying symptoms, but some develop foot arch pain, or problems further up the leg such as knee pain or back pain. They may find their feet tire quickly when they are standing or walking, and that it is difficult to rise up onto their tiptoes. Someone who is experiencing pain on the bottom of the foot or elsewhere due to their flat feet can benefit from exercises, as well as walking barefoot rather than in shoes.
There are a number of other medical conditions that can cause foot arch pain such as diabetes, arthritis and obesity. These can affect the position and strength of the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons, which leads to pain in the bottom of the foot.
Ill Fitting Shoes
It sounds simple but footwear plays an important role in how our feet feel. Foot arch pain is commonly caused by ill-fitting shoes, especially ones with little arch support or that are too tight.
Footwear is particularly important if you are going to be spending long periods on your feet or for activities such as running. Shoes should be supportive, comfortable, cushioned, provide the appropriate level of arch support and be the correct width.